Holloway on baseball, bait shop and infrastructure

Here are the prepared remarks for Mayor A.J. Holloway’s presentation at Breakfast with the Mayor, a Biloxi Chamber-sponsored event Feb. 12, 2013 at the IP Casino Resort Spa.

Thank you for being here for another Breakfast with the Mayor. It’s been quiet at City Hall, with nothing much going on. Unless you include baseball.

We reached a milestone yesterday when the Council voted to move forward with this project. And let’s make no mistake about this. This is about economic development, not only for the downtown, but for tourism in general.

I see this being a source of pride for Biloxi, for the Gulf Coast and for the state of Mississippi. I see rivalries between other teams in the southern division, I see college games being played here. How about LSU and Ole Miss? South Alabama and Southern Miss? Mississippi State? I see plenty of opportunity.

People talk about baseball, but that’s only part of the story. We need to remember that professional baseball is only 70 games a year. I think we’re going to be seeing a lineup of concerts and festivals, and other community events at this new venue. And we’ll see new businesses downtown.

And now, the challenge is to get it built.

So that’s the story on baseball. Let’s talk about a few other things.

The new bait shop and fuel dock at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor will be opening before summer. This is a project that had its own set of challenges. It had to be 19 feet about sea level.

It had to be handicapped accessible, and it had to be able to withstand winds of 140 miles per hour. And it had to be built for less than a million dollars.

The result is an 1,800-square foot design that includes an elevator, and elevated mechanical and electrical systems aimed at minimizing the damage and clean-up from future storms.

The facility will feature ground level fuel pumps and bait tanks, but otherwise everything else will be elevated. There was also a nod to history.

Architects Michael Lebatard and Brad Jones looked at more than a thousand photos of buildings from the past of the Gulf Coast. They looked at the old Edgewater Hotel, the old Biloxi Hotel gazebo, and other historical designs that were relevant to the history of Biloxi.

You’ll be able to walk inside before summertime.

Another challenge we’ve dealt with is our massive infrastructure project. You’ve heard about this project, and some of you have endured it OR you’re enduring it right now.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but I’m not apologizing for the new streets and curbs, and the better drainage that you’re seeing when our work is done. We completed work in the Sunkist area.

We completed work on Walda, Alicia and Christi Lane. We completed work at Rodeo, Rodenburg and Wiltshire.

We completed work on Sharon Hills and Live Oak. We completed work on Jordan, Saylor and Melissa Drives.

This year, we’ll be completing Kensington, Yorkshire and Donwood. This year, we’ll also be completing Goose Pointe, Runnymeade and Channel Mark.

We’re going to have Eagle Point and Brasher Road finished late next year.

The big thing we’re working on right now is getting to east Biloxi. We’re unveiling a $120 million project – by far the largest in the history of the city – next month.

This is a three-year project that will cover the north of the tracks, essentially from I-110 to the Point.

This is going to be a huge project, and we’ll be sitting down with neighborhoods in April to let them know what we’ll be doing on their street.

Our final part of the work – and I’m glad to be able to say that word “FINAL” – will be the south and west contracts, which are $90 million and $30 million respectively. they go from the Point along the front beach. We’ll be awarding that later this year.

One thing I ask you to remember is this: We’re doing 50 years worth of work in the next three to four years. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s getting here.

Now, finally, since I’m closing on infrastructure and streets and drainage, I want to introduce you to the latest member of our team.

He joined us in December, and he’s someone who brings a great deal of experience to our Public Works Department. I’m going to ask him to come forward and introduce himself. Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Gaillet.